Parker: Mourinho has got United right in one season, the same can’t be said of Klopp and Liverpool
Paul Parker has been impressed with Manchester United’s improvement under Jose Mourinho and expects the Old Trafford club to win their fixture against Liverpool this weekend.
I think Manchester United will beat Liverpool this weekend. The match represents United’s biggest test this season. However, United are a different proposition to last year. Mourinho’s men have absorbed everything that has been thrown at them. Unlike last season, Mourinho will go there and look for more than a point.
Mourinho’s default is to be conservative, particularly in away games, so don’t expect swashbuckling attacking play. However, they will actually try to do more with the ball than they did at Anfield last season, when they were more than content to leave Liverpool monopolise possession. Mourinho has more trust in *his* team now. Last season he went there looking not to lose and served up one of the worst ever Premier League games. United started well but then it was 80 minutes of cold custard.
This time United have a strong backbone - they look solid, they have improved. If you look at Liverpool, they have failed to address the glaring issues from last year. Yes, they signed Mohamed Salah but they still lack a goalkeeper and the defence remains ramshackle. Their centre-halves simply aren’t good enough.
WHERE KLOPP HAS FAILED, MOURINHO HAS SUCCEEDED
Both sides had huge issues last season. However, United addressed theirs, while Liverpool have let them fester. United have signed well (more on that below) but Mourinho has also improved the players he inherited, take for example Marouane Fellaini. Klopp has neither improved defensive players at his disposal nor signed better players to address their issues.
Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old TraffordGetty Images
Defensively, the Reds look like they have gone backwards and look more porous than they were back under Brendan Rodgers. At least his side were great going forward; defensively they might not have survived in the second division and they appear to have gotten worse.
"Mourinho has got Manchester United right in one season but Liverpool still look all at sea after two years into Klopp’s tenure. "
The pressure will eventually start to ramp up on Klopp – he will definitely get to the end of the season, but if there are no signs of improvement between now and then he might be in trouble. It is pretty poor that they did not have a back-up plan when they missed out on Virgil van Dijk. They identified the problem and did not solve it.
Every championship-winning team has a standout goalkeeper and back four. Liverpool have neither. Yes, they have Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah but when Liverpool dominated the league, it was because of their defence. Not anymore. Klopp brought in a goalkeeper (Loris Karius) that is no better than the one they already had (Simon Mignolet).
The defence have no trust in Mignolet. You need a keeper with a personality and Simon Mignolet does not have one; he lacks the arrogance that all greats have. Liverpool look worried at set-piece situations and his concentration levels are not good enough.
MATIC THE KEY TO UNITED TRANSFORMATION
Mourinho has Romelu Lukaku realising how good he is. And he compares very favourably to Ibrahimovic, the Swede scored great goals for United but was he a great goalscorer? Lukaku has the makings of a great goalscorer and suits them perfectly. He has been in the right place at the right time and has that hunger to play.
Nemanja Matic of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and EvertonGetty Images
However, the player who has made the real difference to United is Nemanja Matic. He has been a very shrewd signing, who gives United perfect balance. He is a big man but is certainly more brains than brawn, with smart passing and cute interceptions. There is no doubt that he has freed Paul Pogba, too. Pogba no longer feels he has to take on the world to justify his price. Matic has made the rest of the team look and feel better.